2012 Videogame Forecast
After a banner year that saw amazing gaming highs like “L.A. Noire”, “Skyrim”, and “Uncharted 3”, what does 2012 have in store to keep gamers on the edge of their sofa?
Christmas is barely in the rearview mirror, and 2011 has but a few days left. But there’s no time to look back with silly awards and lists; let’s look ahead to the games that might be on your wish list next Christmas!
- BioShock Infinite – The BioShock universe is back, but Rapture and its underwater Art Deco beauty is not. Never fear, as we’re promised another ‘set in the past, but with technology from the future’ adventure. This time the action takes place in 1912… but not the one from history books. This 1912 features a massive floating city named Columbia as the game’s setting, held aloft by dirigibles and having a beautiful retro feel sprinkled with sci-fi sensibilities. But like Rapture before it, the technological marvel of it all camouflages the true dystopian nature that is being challenged by rebels calling themselves the Vox Populi. Playing as an ex-Pinkerton agent, you’ll be tasked with rescuing a young woman with extraordinary powers who’s been trapped on Columbia since childhood. Sounds easy, but with the city slowly falling from the sky and a host of mechanized beasties to deal with, you’ll need to rely on Vigors (like the previous games’ Plasmids) to augment your skills if you’re to survive to the game’s end. (available sometime in 2012 from 2K Games for Xbox 360 and PS3; rated M)
- PlayStation Vita handheld – Available for over a week now in Japan, we’ve got to wait until late February to get hold of Sony’s latest handheld. Featuring both a front touchscreen and a rear touchpad as its gimmick, replacing the PSP in the face of competition from the Nintendo DS and the sour economy is no easy task. Sure, it looks and plays great, but will people be receptive? They have been in Japan, with 320,000 units sold and downloadable game sales exceeding expectations. With a host of popular franchises offering titles at launch (Uncharted, Hot Shots Golf, and Ridge Racer among them), the system boasts a more robust initial software offering than the DS did, and if the big titles keep coming, this will be a popular ‘ask’ come next Christmas. (available February 22 from Sony)
- Far Cry 3 – After a jaunt to Africa for Far Cry 2, the series returns to the tropics, and its announcement caused quite a stir at E3. Playing as tourist Jason Brody, you’ll be trapped on an island group that’s been host to endless rebellion and political instability for years. But you won’t just be rescuing yourself—there’s also a girlfriend who needs saving as well. While few details have been released, an insane militant named Vaas seems poised to be a key adversary. What many other gamers will be interested in is multiplayer; FC2 featured huge maps out of the box and a large selection of popular community-created maps was available. The combat was a bit on the plodding side, but was made up for on some maps with niceties like hang gliders to spice things up. Combining solid single player and multiplayer that improves on its predecessor should ensure a hit if the game hits its targeted release window, often a slow time for new games. (scheduled for release September 2012 from Ubisoft for Xbox 360 and PS3; rated M)
- Hitman Absolution – Agent 47 is coming back—after a grueling six year wait—in his first adventure made exclusively for current generation consoles. While it’s hard to imagine Square Enix and developer IO Interactive straying too far from the formula of ‘go assassinate this guy, and be quiet about it if you can,’ a press release promised a “familiar and yet significantly different experience from other Hitman Games.” Few details are released, other than that Agent 47 has been betrayed by his agency and now seems to be a target himself. A significant change is the longtime voices of 47 and his handler, Diana, both being dropped; no voice actor has been announced for 47, but Diana will now be acted by Las Vegas’ Marsha Thomason. Some fans are already saddened over even that seemingly minor change, but strong gameplay and the rumored online component should likely placate Hitman aficionados. (available sometime in 2012 from Square Enix for Xbox 360 and PS3; rated M)
- Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – Originally called Metal Gear Solid: Rising and meant to be a sequel set between MGS 2: Sons of Liberty and MGS4: Guns of the Patriots to continue Raiden’s storyline, it’s now set after MGS 4 and is considered a spin-off franchise. Raiden is now a cyborg ninja—those two words may ensure high sales all on their own—and his game is based on pure action rather than the stealth of Solid Snake’s games. One component of the blade-based combat will be zan-datsu (“cut-and-take”), meaning you can slice through enemies and then harvest what you need to keep going. Plot specifics are still mostly under wraps, though “a clash with an enigmatic force of countless cyborgs” is mentioned on the official website. One thing that remains from MGS is the ethical concept that “there's a certain virtue to simply disabling your [human] enemies instead of killing them.” Regardless of what’s similar and what’s different between this and its mother MGS franchise, Hideo Kojima’s name being attached as executive producer should be enough to make gamers confident that this will be an outstanding game. (available sometime in 2012 from Konami for Xbox 360 and PS3; rated E10+)
Jeff is currently playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim; follow him on Twitter at JKLugar.